Warning: This article contains images of violence and death.
The U.S.-backed, armed, and funded extreme right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is currently engaged in a systemic collective punishment campaign against the people of Gaza. More than two million of them are trapped in an open-air prison camp with nowhere to run or hide from this scorched earth operation. Children are being slaughtered. Civilian residential buildings are being razed to the ground. Meanwhile ethno-nationalist militias are rampaging through the streets of Israel and terrorizing their Arab neighbors in a campaign of organized mob violence. We must be clear: what started this immediate horror was the intensification of Israel’s ethnic-cleansing campaign against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, forcibly evicting people from their homes to hand them over to Israeli settlers. The incendiary situation was then exacerbated during a Ramadan siege by Israeli forces at one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Israel is a nuclear power, armed with the most sophisticated and lethal weaponry imaginable. And it operates with a blank check of impunity bestowed upon it by its fiscal and military sponsor: the U.S. government. President Joe Biden has a career-long record of defending Israel’s worst crimes. And as president, he is now facilitating this murderous crime against humanity being committed by his “great, great friend” Netanyahu. This is all rooted in Israel’s multidecade war of annihilation against the Palestinian people.
The Israeli and U.S. governments — indeed all Western governments — are promoting an insidious lie with a propaganda campaign to make Hamas the central issue of this bloodbath. The refrain, repeated over and over, that Israel has a right to self-defense, is intended to give Israel a shield of impunity and to justify its crimes against humanity. The U.S. position is that Israel has the right to self-defense, but the Palestinian people do not. Yet anyone who speaks of the horrors meted out against the overwhelmingly defenseless Palestinians is presented with a demand to denounce the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel. It is an effort to “both sides” what is an asymmetric campaign of terror waged by a nuclear power against a people who have no state, no army, no air force, no navy, and an almost nonexistent civilian infrastructure.
It is an effort to “both sides” what is an asymmetric campaign of terror waged by a nuclear power against a people who have no state, no army, no air force, no navy, and an almost nonexistent civilian infrastructure.
Anyone who asks “But what about Hamas’s rockets?” has a moral obligation to put themselves in the shoes of the Palestinians of Gaza and do some very serious soul-searching.
What is my personal view? I would hope that if I lived in an open-air prison where my family and neighbors were being murdered, my humanity being erased by a powerful nation backed by the most powerful government on Earth, that I would find the moral strength not to fire rockets at the civilians of the country whose government wants me dead and repeatedly attempts to murder me. But I cannot state with certainty that I would not resort to such a response if I lived, as the people of Gaza do, trapped in a killing cage. I do not want civilians killed because of the crimes of their government, even if they cheer on my attempted murder. At the same time, this is not my reality, and I have no right to judge the tactics used by the oppressed, particularly when the terror against them is being financed and openly supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike in what has long been official U.S. policy.
There are Palestinian activists and citizens who have spoken out against Hamas and made the case that its actions hurt the Palestinian cause of liberation and aid the propaganda campaign waged by Israel and its powerful allies. These voices must be heard, for they have the absolute moral right to decide the tactics of their resistance because they live with its consequences. But Western journalists, analysts, politicians, and commentators who obsess exclusively over Hamas’s actions while ignoring, minimizing, or justifying the overwhelmingly disproportionate bombardment and displacement being waged by Israel are playing defense for the war crimes of a nation state against a destitute and abused population.